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Traditional Indian Recipes

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In this Lesson you will Learn

  1. What are typical ingredients in Indian cooking?
  2. What is ghee?
  3. Is curry powder really Indian?
  4. What are traditional Indian dishes and recipes?


Indian food is perhaps best known for spicy, saucy curries and for flavorful meats and breads from the tandoor oven. Of course, a country as large as India has a wide variety of regional cuisines. In the cold, mountainous region in the north, meat dishes including heavy sauces and ghee are common. In the tropical south, the hot weather means thinner sauces are preferred. There, ingredients like coconut, ginger, tamarind, and curry leaves are typical, and vegetarian and fish dishes are eaten more frequently than meat.1

Typical Ingredients

Rice (especially Basmati rice), wheat, lentils, chickpeas, onion, potatoes, spinach, yogurt, and raisins are all typical of Indian cuisine. Non-vegetarians may eat goat, lamb, chicken, fish, and other seafood. Because cows are sacred in the Hindu religion, beef is not typically eaten.

Spices are the keystone of Indian cuisine. Allspice, cardamom, cilantro, cloves, coriander seed, garlic, ginger, mustard seeds, and turmeric are all used, among others. As mentioned, clarified butter known as ghee is a popular cooking fat in the north, while vegetable oils, peanut oil, and coconut oil are used in other regions.

Many people immediately think of curry powder when they think of Indian food, but curry powder is actually a combination of typical Indian spices thought to be first mixed together by Brits returning home from India who hoped to recreate the flavor of Indian food.2

The truest Indian spice mix is called garam masala, which consists of cumin, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper in varying proportions depending on the cook's preferences.

Traditional Indian Recipes

Typical Indian dishes are often sauces/curries made with spices, vegetables, and sometimes meat, which are served with rice or flat bread. Tandoori dishes, on the other hand, involve potatoes, vegetables, and/or marinated meats (often marinated in yogurt and spices) cooked in a special clay oven called a tandoor. For dessert, fresh fruit, puddings, and ice cream are popular.3

Appetizer: Samosas
Main Course: Tandoori Chicken
Main Course: Chicken Tikka Masala
Main course: Palak paneer
Main course: Dal kofta
Side Dish: Basmati rice
Side Dish: Naan
Condiment: Chutney
Condiment: Cucumber Raita
Beverage: Mango Lassi
Dessert: Kheer (Rice Pudding)

Recommended Read

Madhur Jaffrey's Quick & Easy Indian Cooking

This cookbook will help you prepare flavorful and authentic Indian recipes in 30 minutes or less. Faster than delivery, you can make these easy meals at home.

check it out ยป


  1. India Food and Cooking: The Ultimate Book on Indian Cuisine
  2. The Cooking of India
  3. USA TODAY - What is the main food of India?


  1. Typical ingredients in Indian cooking: Basmati rice, wheat, lentils, chickpeas, onions, potatoes, yogurt, cardamom, cilantro, turmeric, ginger, coconut milk, and ghee.
  2. Ghee is a type of clarified butter commonly used as a cooking fat in Indian cuisine.
  3. Curry powder is actually a British invention that consists of a variety of typical Indian spices.
  4. Typical Indian dishes: samosas, tandoori chicken, curries, palak paneer, dal kofta, basmati rice, naan, chutney, raita, lassi, and rice pudding.
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